Max Scherzer made his return to New York on Monday just weeks after his July 29 trade from the Mets to the Texas Rangers.
Mets fans were not in a welcoming mood.
The Mets posted a tribute to Scherzer on the Citi Field video board before the game’s first pitch. It was greeted by a chorus of boos from fans in the stands. They saved the brunt of their wrath for a live shot of Scherzer from the Rangers dugout. Scherzer responded to the greeting with a smile.
Mets fans didn’t always see prime Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young winner who helped lead the Washington Nationals to their only World Series championship. But he was certainly no slouch in New York. In 1 1/2 seasons, Scherzer posted a 3.02 ERA and 1.028 WHIP with 294 strikeouts and 54 walks in 253 innings pitched. He was 20-9 in 42 starts.
But the Mets fell short of lofty expectations during his tenure, and his departure at the trade deadline signaled the teardown of a high-priced effort that was expected to produce a World Series contender. This iteration of the Mets instead posted a single playoff win in a wild-card loss to the San Diego Padres last season and sit in last place in the NL East in 2023. So Scherzer’s return doesn’t necessarily elicit warm feelings from the Mets faithful.
Scherzer green-lit his exit from New York by waiving his no-trade clause while questioning the team’s commitment to winning in the short-term. He was candid on his way out the door, telling reporters that Mets general manager Billy Eppler and owner Steve Cohen admitted to him that the team didn’t anticipate being competitive for multiple seasons.
Prior to Monday’s game, Scherzer told reporters that he wishes that he would have pitched better during his Mets tenure. He saw his ERA rise to 4.01 in 19 starts this season as the Mets fell out of postseason contention.
“I know specifically — myself, this year — I wish I would have pitched better. I don’t like to point fingers unless I’m pointing fingers at myself. I definitely can point my finger to myself.”
He also said that he believes that Eppler and Cohen “are doing the right things to be able to build a championship ball club in the future.”
Scherzer’s returned to form during his brief stint in Texas. Since joining the Rangers, he’s 3-1 with a 2.64 ERA and 0.913 WHIP in five starts. Mets fans likely won’t face a chance to express their feelings this week with Scherzer on the field. He’s not scheduled to start during the three-game series that concludes on Wednesday.